Spirited goat-milking competition lightens mood at Bedford Fair

BEDFORD – The crowd stared with bated breath as the competitors readied themselves. Cameras flashed, the announcer about to issue her command.

And with that, three politicians hurriedly yanked a trio of goats’ teats.

There was a spirited sense of competition at the Bedford County Fair’s celebrity goat-milking contest Thursday, with 12 local politicians and business figures facing off in a single-elimination dairy battle. Part of the fair’s inaugural Ag Business Day, the contest drew scores of cheering fans to a crowded showcase pavilion.

“This is truly, honestly the second goat I’ve milked in my entire life,” said state Agriculture Secretary George Greig, who handily defeated DelGrosso’s theme park marketing head and former WTAJ anchor Amy Mearkle in the final round.

Despite his limited goat experience, Greig’s decades as a farmer and string of victories in cow-milking contests lent him a reputation as a ringer Thursday.

“Close your eyes, it’s all the same,” he conceded of the transition from cow to goat.

Less successful were the Bedford County commissioners, District Attorney Bill Higgins and state Sen. John Wozniak, whose milk glass remained dry after 30 seconds of attempted milking.

“Too bad for that other guy,” a young boy said as Wozniak left the goat stand, defeated.

The Ag Business Day was one of several new additions in the week-long fair, which has drawn several thousand guests each day, fair Vice President and Gate Manager Jim Edwards said.

Harness racing returned to positive reactions after a 23-year hiatus, Edwards said; organizers hope to continue the tradition in coming years.

Car races and demolition derbies, always a serious draw and held on weekends throughout summer, will likely pack the stands for the fair’s remaining days, he said.

“As long as the weather holds, that’s three good moneymakers for us,” he said of the car events, despite the increasing rarity of large demolition-derby cars.

“They get fewer and farther between, but they keep finding them,” Edwards said. Drivers from Somerset County, upstate Maryland and as far as the New York border regularly take part at the fairgrounds speedway.

The fair continues today and all day Saturday. Midway rides open 4 p.m. and stock car racing is set for 6:30 tonight; rides open at 1 p.m. Saturday, and large-car demolition derby is scheduled for 6 that night.